Thousands of Yale workers, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson began a strike on Wednesday at Yale University, charging that the University has failed to make an acceptable contract offer to university workers. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Jackson compared this strike to the fight for racial justice by stating that “this is the site of national Labor Day outrage…this is going to be for economic justice what Selma was the for the right to vote.” Jackson and 13 other people were arrested after they blocked traffic on campus.
The Local 34 and 35 unions represent about 4,000 clerical, technical, services, and maintenance workers. In addition about 130 dietary workers were on strike. According to Deborah Chernoff of Local 34, out of the approximately 4200 people represented by the strike, 73 percent are women.
The unions want increased raises and larger pension benefits, as well as retroactive pay for the twenty months workers were on the job without contracts, reports the Associated Press. The unions are fighting for salaries that are up to market for the kind of work that they are doing and that are comparable to what workers at similar universities receive.